Troy (0-2) at North Texas (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 22, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Apogee Stadium (30,850) -- Denton, Texas. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Troy 0-2, North Texas 1-0. Away Record: Troy 1-0, North Texas 0-2. Neutral Record: Troy 0-0, North Texas 0-0. Conference Record: Troy 0-1, North Texas 0-0. Series Record: Troy leads 7-2.
GAME NOTES: In its final season as a member of the Sun Belt Conference, the North Texas Mean Green will open their league schedule with a home game against the Troy Trojans at Apogee Stadium.
Troy already played its Sun Belt opener with a loss to Louisiana (37-24) and followed that up with a 30-24 loss to Mississippi State last weekend. Overall the Trojans are 1-2 on the season with a 39-29 win over UAB the lone victory on the ledger. Troy also began last season 1-2, but finished just 3-9 overall and 2-6 in conference play.
North Texas also enters play with a 1-2 mark on the season, though the Mean Green have yet to face off with a conference opponent. The team's lone win came against Texas Southern of the FCS with losses against nationally ranked Kansas State and LSU making up the other two games on the schedule so far. The Mean Green split their Sun Belt slate (4-4) last season and tied for fifth in the conference. North Texas is in its final season as a member of the Sun Belt with a move to Conference USA coming next season.
Last year the Mean Green snapped a six-game losing streak to Troy with a 38-33 win on the road. Even with the win, North Texas has not fared well in the all-time series with the Trojans holding a 7-2 edge.
Troy runs a spread offense that is predicated on passing the ball. So far this season the Trojans are the top team in the conference in total yards per game (537.7) and passing yards (1,068). In the loss to Mississippi State, the Trojans' high-powered attack was effective in picking up yards (572) but not so in holding onto the ball (four turnovers), or putting points on the board with only three red zone trips.
A strong passing offense needs a solid quarterback and Corey Robinson has been just that in his second season as the starter for Troy. The junior has thrown for 992 yards and completed 65.9 percent of his pass attempts this season. His yards total is currently the best mark in the conference after he threw for 343 yards on 32-of-45 passing last time out.
The Trojans are also lucky enough to have the top rusher in the Sun Belt in Shawn Southward. The senior has 374 yards thus far and is the only back in the league to be averaging over 100 yards per game (124.7). His effort against Mississippi State netted him 137 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Strong offensive line play is part of the reason for that success as the Trojans did not allow a sack and only one tackle for a loss in the game.
Troy also has a dangerous tandem at receiver in Chip Reeves (19 receptions, 241 yards) and Chandler Worthy (12 receptions, 224 yards) who rank second and third respectively in the conference in receiving yards.
Defensively speaking, Troy's numbers as a team certainly don't jump off the page, allowing 435 yards and 32 points per game. Against Mississippi State, the Trojans were right on track in that regard allowing 457 yards to the Bulldogs, including a 213-yard effort on the ground. Troy was able to keep the Bulldogs from sustaining long drive, with only one defensive series in the red zone, but was also susceptible to big plays. Three of the Bulldogs' four touchdowns were on plays of 30 yards or more, including a 72-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
Kanorris Davis had a game-high 10 tackles in the game including 1.5 for loss, but as a team the Trojans struggled to create pressure, failing to record a sack and finishing with only four TFLs.
Against a nationally ranked squad with a Heisman candidate like Kansas State, North Texas held its own offensively, racking up 353 yards compared to 373 by the Wildcats. The effort was almost identical to the Mean Green's season average (355.3 ypg). Unlike the Trojans, the Mean Green rely on a more balanced attack which was on display against Kansas State.
Derek Thompson threw for 208 yards on an impressive 25-of-28 passing, with one TD. He was sacked three times in the game after not being brought down in the squad's first two games. Ivan Delgado was Thompson's preferred target in the contest, with nine catches, for 86 yards.
Brandin Byrd got the bulk of the carries (19 carries, 61 yards), but it was Antoinne Jimmerson who had the more explosive game with 68 yards and a touchdown on only eight carries. As a team North Texas racked up 145 yards on the ground and is now ranked fourth in the conference in the category.
Although not a particularly impressive defensive effort, the Mean Green did make improvements in the loss to Kansas State. After forcing only a pair of three and outs in the entire game against LSU, the Mean Green forced two three and-outs on the first two defensive series of the game. North Texas also held Kansas State to minus one yards of total offense in the first quarter on just six total plays.
Lairamie Lee had 11 tackles to lead the defensive unit, while Will Wright grabbed and interception and Marcus Trice forced and recovered a fumble.
Last season Troy was dreadful away from home (0-7) but the Trojans have already ended that losing streak with a win on the road, against another Sun Belt Conference team. With Larry Blakeney's squad looking like it is running on all cylinders offensively, North Texas might not be able to get enough stops on defense to keep up.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Troy 30, North Texas 25
09/19 11:05:29 ET